Benchmarking is an inexact science with a real downside. When employers look at the ‘average’ (or the ‘top’ ) practice with the express purpose of adopting the ‘best’, they simply miss the point.
And that point is that truly competitive practices are solutions that will always be different, employer to employer, because their execution is dependent on unique differences in resources, location, culture, size, type of job, etc., etc.
What is valuable about peer-to-peer benchmarking – when the data can be trusted, the collection of it is near-to-real-time as possible and the participants are willingly sharing the good, the bad and the ugly, is that something greater than the sum of the parts (or the average) happens. There never are ‘best’ practices…only competitive ones. What is best for you is not necessarily what is best for me but, the journey we are both on is what we have in common: Setting expectations, listening, questioning and, in the end, testing solutions and measuring results. It’s how adults learn best. Knowing more about your journey stimulates me to complete mine…and tell the story.
Focus, speed and transparency…as deep as can be shared are essential ingredients.
A few days ago, one of our CXR members, for example, asked (in a CareerXroads members-only forum) the following question of other leaders focused College Recruiting and UR:
Q: We [CXR member#1] are reevaluating our relocation stipend and housing options for our summer interns. The benchmarking data we’ve received is not reflecting what the market and our students are telling us. Is your company relocation package managed by an internal relocation team, 3rd party, or some other internal resource? And, what is your relocation stipend or package?
The responses from other members appeared immediately and, over the next 24hrs, it was clear that while college and intern stipends and ‘practices’ were vastly different, the approaches employers took were consistent with the characteristics that make them unique. We’ve anonymized the following few responses (because few employers share publicly without layers of approvals and because the discussion was launched within the safety of the CXR community walls) but we were stimulated by the diversity of answers and the potential to improve and even develop new solutions that resulted from the request.
A1. [CXR member#2] has this exact issue every summer, as 99% of our interns are outside of the [Headquarters] area! In the past we have given each intern a lump sum [$] (net) housing stipend and told them it was up to them to figure out their housing. We connected them with an approved vendor for fully furnished housing but the #1 complaint we always got was that the options were too expensive. We are upping our housing stipend to [$] (net) and partnering with our corporate relocation provider.
A2. We [CXR member#3] lease an entire apartment complex, so it’s just for our students. The students pay [$]/week and this includes their rent, cable, internet, water and electricity. It works out well for us and the students.
A3. For our [CXR member#4] We pay FT recent graduates for relocation based on the distance between rotations. We initiate a relo package through [our] third party vendor Interns do not have a relo package that is initiated by a 3rd party vendor. We offer a onetime sign on bonus/stipend which is taxed. We were offering [$], this year we will be offering [$]. We put the interns in contact with former interns who have interned at the site previously to give them ideas and input on which locations are great to live, but the interns are responsible for obtaining their housing.
A4. [CXR member#5] hires interns across our 3 HQ locations and across our Field locations. We are piloting an arrangement with [X] for our F/T campus hires starting with our new hires. They will receive 1:1 counseling and have access to a Relocation portal and this vendor will also distribute their Relo lump sum bonus
A5. At [CXR member#6] we provide housing/roundtrip airfare/car sharing for our interns who are eligible for relocation. We have interns relocating into [w, x and, y]. We are experimenting with our PhD’s/MBA’s a flat grant relocation stipend in [z] to see if this might be an option.
A6. We [CXR member#7] contemplated offering stipends for summer intern housing, however we inevitably decided to increase our hourly pay rate to help offset those costs. That has worked well for us so far. The University in [our city] offers summer intern housing and a lot of interns from [our firm and other firms] stay in their dorms during their internship. The interns set-up their own housing and it is managed by the university. This way we don’t have to manage coordinating housing. We are looking at directing the interns in [x and y] to find housing at local universities as well.
A7. We [CXR member #8] offer undergrads an opportunity to stay in an extended-stay hotel near [us] in [our city] (at our expense), and grads have the same option or they can select a stipend and find housing on their own.
A8. This is one we [CXR member #9] continue to revisit – interesting topic. We do identify and provide the majority of the cost for housing for our HQ interns in [our city], our team identifies the housing and negotiates the contract. For undergrads they pay [$] for the summer and we take care of the rest. (They are taxed on the amount our company pays for legal reasons, never a popular topic for talent to see that deduction on their paycheck). For our field based interns we do [$] for distribution interns only – if they are over 50 miles from home.
We are optimistic about and applaud new networks that are emerging and sharing openly as a prime goal- HROS and ATAP are two that immediately come to mind. We’re also seeing more detailed, transparent case studies presented most recently at ERE.net, and LRP’s TA Tech and Recruiting Trends Conference (where the Candidate Experience Awards case studies will be presented.)